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Van Huss' silly bills squander resources

Johnson City Press • Feb 19, 2020 at 7:00 AM

We expect our elected representatives to not only vote their conscience but to act in the best interests of constituents when crafting legislation. But what if a lawmaker's personal faith becomes a guiding force in political decisions that affect people of many different faiths and beliefs?

That's when you see legislation that not only fails to serve the public interest but is as ridiculous as a bill proposed by Rep. Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough.

Several years ago Van Huss was joined by Rep. Timothy Hill of Blountville in coming to the rescue of our vulnerable children to save them from “Islamic religious indoctrination in Tennessee schools.” It didn't matter that no such effort was demonstrated or that the legislation would only create a whole bunch of work for teachers, schools and boards of education in addressing a nonexistent issue fueled by paranoia and misinformation.

That there was an “intense public outcry” was sufficient for Van Huss and other soldiers to start marching.

Now comes Van Huss with the silliest piece of legislation Nashville has seen in a long time … maybe ever. Its stated purpose is to allow local governments to pay for an occasional census to be conducted by the federal government to find any pregnant women in the community so that state funds distributed to localities based on population can count the fetus, even if it's but a day old.

The proposed law says cities or counties could, at their own expense, cause a special census at any time between the regular federal census every decade. But that special census "must be conducted by the Federal Bureau of the Census or in a way that’s directed by and satisfactory to the department of economic and community development.”

The cost of going door-to-door in every household in cities and counties to ask but one absurd question, "Anyone here pregnant?" would be astronomical and we are quite confident that the federal government won't be interested in conducting any such census, nor will local governments.

This bill is not what it seems. The main reason for it is to have the state endorse Van Huss' belief that personhood occurs at the moment of fertilization. Whether you believe as Van Huss does is immaterial. Spending millions of taxpayer dollars on an off-year census for such pandering should be an affront to all.

This follows another bill that has caused other lawmakers to turn away in embarrassment. It declares that CNN and the Washington Post are fake news. Asked whether the resolution was a good use of taxpayer money, state Sen. Rusty Crowe of Johnson City said: "I don't think so. It's a personal message from Van Huss to his constituents."

And Van Huss is using the resources of state government to send it. Let's hope he finds time amid such foolishness to address issues that matter to his constituents, not just himself.

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